Great Moulton girl has sky high ambitions

ASK most teenage girls what they would like to do as a career and it is unlikely Industrial Rope Access Technician, which involves abseiling down high rise buildings, would feature prominently.

However, fearless Great Moulton girl Billie-Jo Mills is taking such a lofty ambition in her stride and has become possibly the youngest girl in the world to qualify for the job on the day of her 18th birthday- the youngest a person can become a rope technician.

Such was the speed of her success she completed all of her training in the week leading up to her birthday on Friday, when she passed her International Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) level 1 assessment at her training base on Great Yarmouth's Gapton Hall industrial estate.

Her assessment, which consisted of a written exam and practical work, lasted three hours and involved Billie-Jo having to rescue a simulated unconscious 'casualty.'

Now the sky is literally the limit for the former Long Stratton High School pupil, who will use her abseiling skills to do cleaning and maintenance work on everything from London skyscrapers and wind turbines for her employer Sky High Rope Access.

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Her first job will be cleaning windows in the tall apartments opposite Norwich City Football Club.

But she admitted her choice of career looked as distant as the tops of the buildings she will be scaling when she left school, as she suffered from a lack of confidence due to bullying she experienced.

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However, she has since turned her life around and islooking forward to the future with renewed vigour.

She said: 'I wanted to become a rope technician because I did not want to be stuck in an office job. I am quite a sporty, outdoors kind of person and I liked the idea of doing a hands-on job.'

But she is no stranger to danger and outdoor adventure as she regularly takes part in gorge walking and climbing trips in Northumberland with her family, including her stepfather Simon Castello, mother Sonya French, 40 and sister Charlie, 15.

So the thought of being suspended on a harness 100ft above the ground holds no fears for Billie-Jo, who has been working in Norwich-based Sky High Rope Access' office for a couple of years.

'It is quite nice to see the scenery. When you look down everyone always seems really small. I always get to visit other towns and cities like Manchester and get to see everything those places have to offer,' she added.

As part of her training she learned how to handle the ropes and make secure knots and she is hoping to take the next step up and qualify for IRATA level 2, which will involve her learning how to transfer from rope to rope to rescue colleagues in trouble.

If she passes this level, she can then progress to level 3 to train in a supervisory role.

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